Caserones controller reveals expansion plan in Chile

24-Sept-2012 Diario Financiero – News
The company also expressed concern for energy issues
Caserones controller reveals expansion plan in Chile
They will purchase lands in the north of country and are in final stage of exploration for binational project

Caserones Project President and General Manager of JX Nippon & Metals Corporation in Chile, Kenichi Murakami, has indicated that they are always looking for development opportunities and that they are interested in purchasing lands with large copper perspectives in Atacama and Coquimbo regions. Likewise he pointed out that they are aimed at taking some distance from joint ventures in order to develop new enterprises on their own.

JX holding controls Pan Pacific Copper subsidiary – in association with Mitsui – owning 75% of Caserones and 40% of the binational project Vicuña. Additionally and through other alliances, JX Nippon holds 15% participation in Los Pelambres, 3.6% in Collahuasi and 3% in Escondida.

Strategic position

JX has recently acquired 40% of binational copper and gold project Vicuña through Pan Pacific. Vicuña project is adjacent to Caserones site and with a US$3,000 million investment will be operating in January 2013. As regards to Caserones, Murakami said: “In 2014 it will be at full-capacity production generating 150 thousand tons of copper fines in concentrate, 30 thousand tons of copper cathodes and 3 thousand tons of molybdenum”. Although company sales depend on copper price, the President of Caserones indicated that the project expects to invoice about US$1,000 million by 2014.

The executive also explained the importance of vicinity of both projects and he said that “Caserones is at 10 km from Los Helados (Chilean portion of Vicuña project)”. “Certainly they are totally independent projects but we hope there is permanent collaboration and synergy between them”, he added. Regarding Vicuña project, he commented that it is currently in exploration stage and there are still two or three years for boring works before going into feasibility study. Final investment will be announced this year because we are to resolve it with our NGEx partners – Canadian company controlling 60% of project-”, he added.

The energy factor

Caserones and Vicuña are located in Atacama, the most energy-isolated region and the one having largest energy problems. The Castilla thermoelectric generation project has been recently stopped and great uncertainty exists as to energy supply for mining projects in the region. Murakami asserted: “We have contracts with SIC suppliers for Caserones project who will be damaged with this situation and will try to transfer their higher marginal costs which will in turn affect operational costs of our project”. The executive indicated that solution to energy scarcity is in “implementing adjustments to regulations and public policies that unlock power generation and transmission projects approval” and that they consider “it will at least take five years”.

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